Some of us have been working from home for years but for others it can be a shock to the system, especially when it’s been enforced pretty abruptly due to the coronavirus outbreak. With schools closing too, preparing to maintain any productivity could be challenging but these are our tips for creating an instant home office from your existing resources.
Avoid working from your bedroom. Psychologically it’s really not conducive to work and can bring on cabin fever even more quickly. Getting up and dressed and going to work (even if it’s a matter of metres) is crucial to maintaining some semblance of normality.
If you’re lucky enough to have a spare bedroom (or indeed a study) it’s probably time to use it as an office. You’re unlikely to be expecting visitors any time soon. It’s away from domestic chores that can be distracting. It’s easy to end up spending half your time sorting the laundry or cooking elaborate lunches when you work from home and physically distancing yourself helps to focus on work. Tucked away in the spare bedroom you have half a chance of getting something done!
Without a spare bedroom it’s tricky, especially if you only have communal space, shared with housemates, partners, children and pets. Defining a quiet area of the house is important and even if you’re working at the dining room table, setting out the rules of ‘quiet’ and ‘social’ spaces may be required. Perhaps the living room becomes the workspace and the kitchen is where to go for breaks. Quickly establish the place that is dedicated to work and make sure your household are aware – including the pets!
If you’ve spent a day working sat on a dining room chair, you’ll know that’s not what they’re designed for! What choice do you have though? Spend some time and thought about the furniture you’re going to use. Everyone is different but maintaining good posture is crucial. This isn’t a day working from home – it’s probably going to be months and you don’t want to spend time in isolation with crippling backache. The NHS has some good guidelines here – How to Sit at Your Desk Correctly Crucially you should have your screen at eye level so you’re working on a laptop you may want to place it on a pile of books and create some sort of arm supports.
Are you able to take your office chair home on loan? If you’re in a position to, now is the time to buy a good office chair, delivered. It may be the thing that saves your sanity in these uncertain times. You may want to check out ‘active furniture’ too. We love this Balance Ball Stool from AJ Products and its compact nature is perfect for limited spaces.
Set up for video conferencing
Be prepared for a summons to a video meeting. Just be prepared and do a quick analysis of your surroundings. Test how you look on screen, the lighting, the background before you have an urgent call. This is a great article detailing all you need to know – How to Pull Off a Professional Video Call From Home. From a design perspective they make a few key points. Avoid venetian blinds in the background (your cool stylings don’t do the screen any favours), have a few soft furnishings to improve the acoustics and use lamps well to avoid either harsh daylight or the impression of your ghostly face emerging from the gloom. Essentially just prepare to avoid unnecessary stress and prove you can be just as professional working from home in your emergency office.